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  Hindawi Publishing CorporationAnesthesiology Research and PracticeVolume 2012, Article ID 165267, 5 pagesdoi:10.1155/2012/165267 Clinical Study  ProceduralComplicationsofSpinalAnaesthesiaintheObesePatient ManuelWenk, 1 ChristianWeiss, 2 MichaelM¨ollmann, 3 andDanielMatthiasP¨opping  1 1 Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer Campus 1, A1, 48149 Muenster, Germany   2  Medical School, University of Muenster, 48149 Muenster, Germany  3 Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, St. Franziskus Hospital, 48145 Muenster, Germany  Correspondence should be addressed to Manuel Wenk, manuelwenk@uni-muenster.deReceived 5 April 2012; Accepted 25 June 2012Academic Editor: Michael R. FrassCopyright © 2012 Manuel Wenk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the srcinal work is properly cited. Background  . Complications of spinal anaesthesia (SpA) range between 1 and 17%. Habitus and operator experience may play apivotalrole, butonly sparsedatais available tosubstantiate thisclaim.  Methods . 161patients were prospectively enrolled. Data suchas spread of block, duration of puncture, number of trials, any complication, operator experience, haemodynamic parameters, wasrecorded and anatomical patient habitus assessed.  Results . Data from 154 patients were analyzed. Success rate of SpA in the groupof young trainees was 72% versus 100% in the group of consultants. Trainees succeeded in patients with a normal habitus in 83.3%of cases versus 41.3% when patients had a di ffi cult anatomy ( P   =  0 . 02). SpA in obese patients (BMI ≥ 32) was associated with asignificantly longer duration of puncture, an increased failure ratio when performed by trainees (almost 50%), and an increasednumber of bloody punctures.  Discussion . Habitus plays a pivotal role for SpA e ffi ciency. In patients with obscured landmarks,failure ratio in unexperienced operators is high. Hence, patient prescreening as well as adequate choice of operators may bebeneficial for the success rate of SpA and contribute to less complications and better patient and trainee satisfaction. 1.Background Ever since the introduction of spinal anaesthesia more than acentury ago, complications have been part of the technique;failed or insu ffi cient block, headaches, nausea, vomiting,and pain around the injection site are common minorcomplications [1, 2]. The technique of spinal anaesthesia (SpA) is considered a basic skill, however, one that first has tobe mastered. According to literature, the incidence of failedor partially failed SpA ranges between 0.5 and 17% [3–5]. The incidence of postdural puncture headaches (PDPHs)ranges between 0,7 and 11% based on the type of needleused [6, 7], and transient neurologic syndromes can still be observed after SpA with an incidence of 0–7% [8].As with many other procedures in medicine, intuitionsuggests that procedure-specific experience of the operatorshould be beneficial and reduce complications. However,there is only sparse data available to demonstrate that thisis the case for SpA [9, 10]. Furthermore, with an increasing number of severely obese patients in western society, anesthesiologists are—more than ever—faced with patients where the individualhabitus causes a challenge to perform a seemingly simplebasicskilllikeSpAbecauseitreliesonidentifiableanatomicalstructures termed “landmarks.” These can be completely obscured in the obese patient [11, 12]. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of theindividual patient habitus on the success rate of SpA and theincidence of immediate complications related to SpA in thecontext of operator experience. 2.Methods After approval from the Ethics Committee of the MedicalFaculty of the University of Muenster (protocol 2009-459-f-S), 161 patients planned for elective orthopedic or vascularsurgical procedures of the lower limb under SpA were  2 Anesthesiology Research and Practiceenrolled in the study. Informed consent was obtained fromeach patient.Operators were divided into two groups ( n  =  5/eachgroup). Group T were anesthetic trainees with  ≤ 1 year ex-perience in anaesthesia and group C anesthetists with  ≥ 5- year experience in anaesthesia and  > 150 previously per-formed SpA as well as ongoing regular exposure to SpA.Exclusion criteria were as follows:(i)  < 18 or  > 90 years of age,(ii) coagulation disorders or any combination of the fol-lowing: INR   >  1.5, aPTT  >  40sec, thrombocytes  < 100.000 per microliter blood,(iii) neurological disorders,(iv) sepsisorsevereinfectionorlocalinfectionaroundthetypical injection site,(v) known allergies to local anesthetics, and(vi) American Society of Anesthesiologists Score (ASA) ≥ IV.Besides demographic data, we recorded the following char-acteristics: number of puncture trials, change of spinalsegment, bleeding from the introducer or the spinal needle,duration of procedure, paresthesias during puncture, spreadof sensory and motor block, failed or partially failed SpA aswell as hemodynamic changes in blood pressure and heartrate. A relevant hypotensive episode was defined as a systolicblood pressure  < 85mmHg or a decrease in systolic pressure > 30% below the initial systolic blood pressure.An anaesthesiologist with  > 20-year experience as ananesthetic consultant assessed each patients’ spinal anatomy based on palpation as well as X-rays, when available. Patientswere divided into an “easy” and a “di ffi cult habitus forSpA” group. The habitus was considered ”di ffi cult” when nospinousprocesseswerepalpableattheL3–L5levelandabove,which could be used as landmarks to guide the operatorto identify a midline. Furthermore, in patients with lumbarscoliosis and subsequent longitudinal rotation of the spinousprocesses towards the concave side as identified by X-ray, thehabitus was considered “di ffi cult.”All patients were attached to standard monitoring (non-invasive blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and peripheraloxygen saturation). An intravenous access was established,and an infusion of 1000mL of a balanced electrolytesolution (Sterofundin-ISO, B.Braun, Melsungen, Germany)was started. Patients were then turned into a lateral position,and after usual sterile preparations SpA was performed witha 25-gauge pencil point spinal needle (PenPoint, B.Braun,Melsungen, Germany). A standard introducer needle wasused to facilitate spinal needle puncture. Once a free flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was obtained, the color of CSFwas compared against a color scale measuring the amount of blood in CSF.Local anesthetics used were isobaric bupivacaine 0.5%(3mL) for endoprosthetic surgery or isobaric ropivacaine0.5% (2.5–4mL) for all other procedures. If the surgicalprocedure was expected to be of longer duration, 0.1mg Table  1: Demographic data.Age (years) 64 . 9 ± 15 . 0Sex ratio (male/female) 64/90Height (cm) 170 ± 9 . 7Weight (kg) 79 ± 16 . 1Body mass index (kg/m 2 ) 27 . 2 ± 4 . 9BMI ≤ 24.9 ( n ) 52BMI ≤ 29.9 ( n ) 53BMI ≤ 34.9 ( n ) 38BMI ≤ 39.9 ( n ) 9BMI ≥ 40 ( n ) 2ASA I ( n ) 42ASA II ( n ) 87ASA III ( n ) 25 morphine was additionally injected into the subarachnoidspace.Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS Statistics18.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Categorical variables areexpressed as frequency and percentage, whereas continuousvariables are represented as means with standard deviationor as median and interquartile range (25th percentile; 75thpercentile). Before statistical testing, each continuous vari-able was analysed exploratively for its normal distributionusing Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. The Mann-Whitney testwas then applied for comparison of nonparametric variablesbetween the two study groups. The nonparametric patients’baseline characteristics were assessed using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Friedman’s signed rank test was used to comparethe nonparametric time-dependent variables and the chi-square test for comparison of categorical variables.Di ff  erences were considered as statistically significant at P <  0 . 05. 3.Results 161 patients were enrolled in the study. 7 patients wereexcluded due to changes in the treatment plan. Completedata sets of 154 patients were subsequently analyzed.Demographic data of all patients is displayed in Table 1.Overall success rate of SpA in the group of young traineeswas 72% versus 100% in the group of consultants. 51 (35%)patients were rated to have a “di ffi cult” anatomy/habitus.Trainees succeeded to perform SpA in patients with an easy habitus in 83.3% of cases versus 52.4% when patients had adi ffi cultanatomy( P   = 0 . 005).WhentraineesfailedaSpA,anoperator from group C took over, and they were successful in100% of the cases hence all patients enrolled in the study hadthe planned surgical procedure done under SpA.Table 2 lists specific complications encountered in bothoperator groups and the two patient groups. Obese patientswith a BMI  ≥  32 were significantly higher at risk toexperience complications during SpA. Duration of puncturewas longer, trainees failed SpA in almost half the cases, andthere were significantly more bloody punctures and a higherincidence of paresthesias. Furthermore, even consultants  Anesthesiology Research and Practice 3 Table  2: Incidences of immediate complications for patients with “easy” and “di ffi cult” habitus and the respective operator experience.Easy habitus Di ffi cult habitusTrainees ( n = 46) Consultants ( n = 57)  P   Trainees ( n = 21) Consultants ( n = 30)  P  Duration of puncture (sec) 117 ± 80 63 ± 48 0.001 ∗ 154 ± 89 102 ± 91 n.s.Success on first puncture 19 (41.3%) 48 (84.1%) 0.002 ∗ 2 (9.5%) 11 (36.7%) 0.03 ∗ Failed SpA 6 (13.0%) 0 0.01 ∗ 10 (47.6%) 0 0.0003 ∗ Insu ffi cient spread of SpA 2 (4.3%) 1 (1.6%) n.s. 1 (4.8%) 1 (3.3%) n.s.Segment change 7 (15.2%) 3 (5.2%) 0.05 8 (38.1%) 12 (40%) n.s.Blood in introducer needle 5 (10.9%) 5 (8.8%) n.s. 8 (38.1%) 9 (45%) n.s.Blood in CSF 4 (8.7%) 1 (1.6%) n.s. 3 (14.3%) 5 (16.7%) n.s. Values indicate total number of patients and percentage. Column  P   displays the respective  P   values where  ∗ indicates significance ( P <  0 . 05) and n.s.: notsignificant. Table  3: Incidences of complications on day one postoperatively and respective operator experience.Trainees Consultants  P   Di ffi cult anatomy Easy anatomy   P  Transient neurological syndrome (%) 2.2 1.1 n.s. 1.1 2.0 n.s.Pain at insertion site (%) 4.4 9.5 n.s. 10.0 6.7 n.s.Urinary retention (%) 0 0 n.s. 0 0 n.s.PONV (%) 11.1 10.5 n.s. 14.0 8.9 n.s. Values indicate total number of patients and percentage. n.s.: not significant. required 3 or more punctures to perform successful SpA in42.5% of the patients with a BMI ≥ 32.The height of the achieved sensory and motor block wasnot related to weight or BMI of the patient.Consultants caused less paraesthesias when performingSpA as compared to trainees; however, the di ff  erence was notstatistically significant ( P   =  0 . 31). Patients that were ratedto have a di ffi cult habitus had significantly more paresthesiasduring puncture than patients with identifiable landmarks(13.2 versus 2%;  P   =  0 . 005). Furthermore, patients witha di ffi cult habitus had significantly more pain during theprocedure than patient with an easy habitus (11.3 versus1.9%;  P   = 0 . 02).Isobaric bupivacaine 0.5% in equipotent doses causedsignificantly more hypotensive episodes after intrathecalinjection as compared to isobaric ropivacaine 0.5% (21(25%)versus2(3.1%); P   = 0 . 0002).Therewasnosignificantdi ff  erence in hypotensive episodes between patients with aBMI  <  30 versus ≥ 30 ( P   = 0 . 05).Bradycardia with a heart rate of 45 beats per minuteor below was observed in 9 (6%) patients and was notsignificantly related to the local anaesthetic used but wassignificantly correlated with the level of puncture.Interestingly, patients who required 4 or more puncturesto place a successful SpA had a significantly greater drop inblood pressure.On day one postoperatively, two patients (1.3%) showedtypical features of a transient neurologic syndrome, 6patients (3.9%) reported di ffi culties passing urine during thefirst 12 hours, but no patient required bladder catheteriza-tion. 15 patients (9.7%) had one or more episodes of PONV(Table 3).No major complications such as severe hemodynamicdisturbances, cardiac arrest, cauda equina syndrome, orpermanent neurologic complications were observed. 4.Discussion Spinal anaesthesia has an excellent safety record in terms of major complications. However, there is a significant numberof minor complications that—each on its own—may causeunpleasant sequelae for the patient [3, 4, 13]. The majority  of complications are associated with the procedure itself.Insu ffi cient or failed SpA ranges from 0 to 17% and bloody punctures as well as significant hypotension are not uncom-mon [3, 9]. The current study shows that the overall failure rate of SpA is comparable to previously published data. Wehaveshownthatsuccessandfailurerateappearstobedirectly dependent on the operator’s experience and the individualpatient habitus. Trainees failed significantly more attemptsto perform SpA, had more di ffi culties placing SpA in patientswith obscured landmarks, and had significantly more bloody punctures, and the procedure duration was significantly longer as compared to experienced specialists. It has beenshown previously that SpA is a complex procedure that ismore di ffi cult to master than, for example, endotrachealintubation [14]. Furthermore, it has been estimated thatthe experience of around 100 performed SpA is requiredto achieve a 90% success rate [15]. Our data shows that young trainees had a success rate of 84% in patients with anormalanatomy,indicatingthatsometraineeshaveprobably mastered the technique while others were still on theascending part of the learning curve. However, this picture  4 Anesthesiology Research and Practicechanges completely when patients present with obscuredlandmarks or di ffi cult anatomy. Trainees, who were able toperform SpA successfully in anatomically “easy” patients,suddenly faced a failure rate of 52% in those patients witha di ffi cult habitus, significantly di ff  erent to “easy” patients.Consultants were able to place a SpA even in the di ffi cultpatients but in 42.5% of cases, 3 or more punctures wererequired to position the spinal needle in the correct location.To our knowledge, this is the first study that specifically investigated the role of the individual patient habitus by rating landmarks and other anatomical features. Part of educating trainees is to accept that they do have a higherfailure rate [16, 17], and it is the responsibility of the relevant societies to define what is an acceptable failure rate for whichprocedure [18]. Based on our findings we postulate thatan experienced anesthesiologist should anatomically rate allpatients who are about to receive SpA and if the habitus isconsidered to be di ffi cult, young trainees should probably not perform SpA to avoid frustration and build a moresolid foundation based on successfully performed puncturesrather than failing every second attempt. However, from ourdata, it appears that young trainees do have a higher failurerate, but they do not cause significantly more complications.Hence exposure to the di ffi cult patient is relatively safe, oncea solid foundation of the technique has been established. Werecommend that the level of supervision should be adequateto avoid that the operator’s success or fail rate in thesepatients is significantly lower than in experienced operators.Multiple attempts by young trainees as well as experiencedoperators lead to a more significant reaction of hemody-namic parameters. Blood pressures dropped significantly more in patients where multiple attempts were necessary.We o ff  er two possible explanations. Firstly, multiple attemptsmay lead to the operator changing spinal segments, and thedirection is usually upwards thus causing more sympatheticblock. Secondly, multiple attempts may cause stress andenhance anxiety in the patient hence causing disturbancesof the autonomous sympathetic regulation. Last but notleast, avoiding multiple attempts may also a ff  ect patientsatisfaction, but we have not investigated that matter.As a training tool for young trainees as well as a tool touse in the anatomically challenging patient, the introductionof ultrasound-guided SpA may be worthwhile to consider.Some studies have shown increased success rates whenultrasound is used in patients with obscured landmarksor di ffi cult anatomy [19–21]. However, this might involve teaching both SpA and the use of an ultrasound machineto trainees at the same time, which may be an even biggerchallenge. Furthermore, similar to current discussions on thecomprehensive use of ultrasound for central venous catheterplacement, it needs to be discussed whether trainees shouldin general learn to perform landmark techniques before they add ultrasound or vice versa.Our study has limitations. Firstly, patients were not ran-domized to experienced or unexperienced operators butwere consecutively allocated to operators available. Secondly,operators could not be blinded to patient habitus for obviousreasons. However, operators were blinded to the assessmentof the anatomical structures and the subsequent grading.Since trainees were on the ascending part of the learn-ing curve during the study period, repeated exposure toperforming SpA itself may have influenced their individualperformance and subsequently the results. Furthermore,our study was not powered to comment on incidencesof rare major complications such as severe hemodynamicdisturbances, cardiac arrest, cauda equina syndrome, orpermanent neurologic complications since this was never theaim of this study. 5.Conclusion Albeit a relatively safe technique, SpA has its problems andpitfalls, and our study has shown that increased operator-experience results in a higher success rate of SpA. Further-more, the individual patient’s habitus plays a pivotal rolewhen trainees are involved in performing SpA. Even forexperienced anesthesiologists this group of patients has itschallenges, but the failure rate of SpA is still very low. Weconclude that careful patient selection and prescreening aswell as adequate choice of operators is beneficial for thesuccess rate of SpA and may contribute to less complications,greater safety, better patient, and trainee satisfaction. References [1] A. Bier, “Versuche ¨uber Cocainisirung des R ¨uckenmarkes,” DeutscheZeitschriftf¨urChirurgie ,vol.51,no.3-4,pp.361–369,1899.[2] H. F. W. Wulf, “The centennial of spinal anesthesia,”  Anesthe-siology  , vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 500–506, 1998.[3] P. D. W. Fettes, J. R. Jansson, and J. A. W. Wildsmith, “Failedspinal anaesthesia: mechanisms, management, and preven-tion,”  British Journal of Anaesthesia , vol. 102, no. 6, pp. 739–748, 2009.[4] B. L. Sng, Y. Lim, and A. T. H. Sia, “An observationalprospective cohort study of incidence and characteristics of failed spinal anaesthesia for caesarean section,”  International  Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia , vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 237–241,2009.[5] P. J. Tarkkila, “Incidence and causes of failed spinal anestheticsin a university hospital: a prospective study,”  Regional Anesthe-sia , vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 48–51, 1991.[6] E. J. Krommendijk, R. Verheijen, B. Van Dijk, E. M. Spoelder,M. J. M. Gielen, and J. J. De Lange, “The PENCAN 25-gaugeneedle: a new pencil-point needle for spinal anesthesia testedin 1,193 patients,”  Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine , vol.24, no. 1, pp. 43–50, 1999.[7] D. K. Turnbull and D. B. Shepherd, “Post-dural punctureheadache: pathogenesis, prevention and treatment,”  British Journal of Anaesthesia , vol. 91, no. 5, pp. 718–729, 2003.[8] D. Zaric and N. L. Pace, “Transient neurologic symptoms(TNS)followingspinalanaesthesiawithlidocaineversusotherlocal anaesthetics,”  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews ,no. 2, Article ID CD003006, 2009.[9] P. Sirivararom, T. Virankabutra, N. Hungsawanich, P. Prem-samran, and W. Sriraj, “The Thai Anesthesia IncidentsMonitoring Study (Thai AIMS) of adverse events after spinalanesthesia: an analysis of 1,996 incident reports,”  Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand  , vol. 92, no. 8, pp. 1033–1039,2009.
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